I often wonder about this. It’s a very sensitive issue, but I’ve met several parents who I, as an outsider would say, have a favorite child. They would never admit that or say it out loud, but if I can see it, then surely the “other” child or children can too.
I don’t judge these parents, because they can’t help it, it’s just the way it is. In many ways it must be a nightmare. We all start off thinking we would never have a favorite child, but sometimes there’s a connection or a meeting of minds that’s beyond anyone’s control. Is that wrong? I’m not sure. I do think it would be wrong to consciously or actively differentiate between children, but unconsciously, what can you do?
I don’t have a favorite child, but I’m sure that at some point all three of them will think I do. I can see it already, If I reward one child for something well done, another will think that’s unfair and that they’re being left out.
The reality is that at various stages, all of them are either easier or harder to like. At the moment, Izzy is super cute. But come on, she’s one! She’s toddling, giggling, singing. What’s not to like? Apart from the sleepless nights of course… If Maisie was my last baby (she’s the middle one) she’d so easily be the cutest, but unfortunately next to Izzy she’s just not as cute. Do I like or love her any less? Of course not, but a baby is cuter than a stroppy pre-schooler, FACT.
My eldest, Sam, was a horror between the ages of 18 months and 3 years, 364 days. He was stubborn, contrary, noisy and basically pretty unpleasant. He would “bray”, and “hoot”, he would roll around the floor in fury, he was a total pain in the butt cheeks. He was also coming into his own character, a character that was very different to the one I’d expected. I’d expected my children to be like me – showy and upbeat, but horror upon horrors he wasn’t! He wasn’t the child I imagined I’d have, who’d jiggle when they heard music, or giggle outrageously, he was shy, and sensitive and very, very stubborn. Now, I can’t imagine where he got it from, but it wasn’t me and that took some getting over.
When I did get over it, when I got over that (gird your loins folks, I’m gonna say something terrible) disappointment, I was finally able to just love him, Sam, the person. Did I suddenly understand him all the time? No. But I did accept him and in doing so was free to enjoy him and see the world from his point of view. Today, Sam, is like a jewel in my heart. His sensitivity breaks my heart and his person brings me great joy and inspires great tenderness, he’s a genuinely lovely boy who still has the capacity to be a horror.
But that’s children isn’t it? They’re not silent little sponges who absorb the best of us, they’re little individuals who have to find their own way, initially with our help.
I hope you don’t think I’m a bad Mum for admitting my initial disappointment, but what I want to do, is put it out there that we can’t help our reactions, it’s how we follow up those reactions that counts. Just because we become parents, doesn’t mean know what we’re doing. We’re all learning every day and as long as we actively love our children for who they are, then we’re doing alright. Alright!? 😉